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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Keep Your Friends Close, But...

The warrior saying is keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Watching Barack Obama pick his cabinet, I think he's kept that in mind.

Call me a cynic if you must, but I think that part of the Obama strategy in picking his cabinet is to discredit the Clinton Era, since that's when most of their careers took off. I know where Obama is from, and how politics is played in his neighborhood. When you can't get rid of thorn in your side in Chicago's political world you bring that thorn TO your side. Then, as soon as the time is right, you find a reason to toss it, normally with enough innuendo to destroy the person.

When you look at his economic team, it's nearly all made up of Clinton leftovers. Most have some pretty decent credentials, and no less than "the most evil man on earth" Karl Rove has called the selections excellent. That alone should make those folks wonder what's next.

Simply put, we are in a 24 hours news world. People don't want to hear that we've been in a recession for a year, they want to know why it didn't end yesterday. When it doesn't end by June, Mr. Obama; who last week claimed it would be his vision those Clintonites would be working towards; will start letting on that his economic team has let him down, hasn't shared his vision, and led us astray. And he'll start firing them.

His foriegn policy team, though is where he really gets to make a killing. Keeping Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense has to be driving the netroots nuts. But is truly a good move. And when Gates starts disagreeing with ideas on Iraq and Afghanistan, he's easy to cut loose as a left over from the last administration.

Hillary Clinton though, is the big prize, and not nearly as smart as many thought she was. Secretary of State sounds like a dream job for her, but it will be her nightmare, you can quote me on that one. Her acceptance of this job will be the end of her political career. Unlike her husband she's not a "comeback kid". And when she's dropped like a hot potato, for what ever the reason, she's done. Once she resigns her Senate seat it won't be coming back soon. Her own party will get to fill it, so challenging for it won't be an easy option. Moving "down" to the House won't really be an option either.

Hillary is really the only person in the party with enough horsepower to challenge Obama should his term prove to be troublesome, or worse, Jimmy Carter like. But if he's got her strung up in the State Department, she can't really do much to challenge him. Better, if he comes up with a reason that she "screwed up the State Department" then he discredits her, and can get rid of her and any potential challenges.

Her better option would have been to respectfully decline the offer, behind closed doors and quietly, and pushed for John Kerry who also wanted the post. Then, from the Senate she could have pushed against agenda items she had problems with; cherry picked to be the most damaging to Obama; and in four years if things didn't look good for him, challenge, showing by her Senate actions how she'd have done things differently.

Those in the "rose colored glasses" crew will say that Obama has artfully picked a team with experience to help the inexperienced. And that is true; but they are also a group that he can just as easily say didn't alway share his vision, and are easier to get rid of.

There are some pretty safe folks he's named. Eric Holder, though he has baggage will probably stick around as AG for quite some time. While his involvement in some of Bill Clinton's pardons will come under scrutiny at his confirmation hearings, his body of work since the Reagan administration will get him confirmed.

Bill Richardson at Commerce will have no problems. Disregarding the fact that he was probably the most qualified of all the Democrats in the primaries, he doesn't pose a threat to Obama. In fact, his pick to be at Commerce and not State is strange, he's much more qualified for Hillary's upcoming job than she is. That's part of the reason I think she might be short for the post.

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